Dan Brown’s character of Robert Langdon has been rocking the book world since 2000’s Angels & Demons and as a blockbuster film series since 2006’s The Da Vinci Code. 10 years on, the second sequel adapts Inferno for the big screen.
I’ve always found the Tom Hanks fronted adaptations to be oddly dull affairs- a hyper smart man being hyper smart at people while jogging around gorgeous locations. Thankfully Inferno does plenty to flip things around.
For one, this version of Langdon is heavily compromised. He’s suffering from memory loss which throws his superior persona out of whack. He’s also got a formidable partner in Felicity Jones’ Dr. Sienna Brooks who might even be smarter than the symbologist.
It also doesn’t hurt that the whole affair is utterly daft. A billionaire has created a complex puzzle for Langdon to solve, leaving him as the only person alive who can save the human race from a terrible virus. And naturally this involves touring the stunning locales of Florence, Venice and further afield.
Returning director Ron Howard seems to have remembered that it’s ok for these films to be fun, complete with a more flippant version of the leading character and a sparky set up between the leads- refreshingly free of romance.
He also gets to really let loose in a series of fantastical visions brought on my Langdon’s head trauma. These scenes were incredibly vivid on the IMAX screen, almost overpowering at times in their hyperactive editing, but they’re a damn sight more interesting than Paul Bettany’s creepy albino killer or trying to blow up the Vatican.
Jones makes for a solid addition to the lineup, and a decent foil for Hanks while the 60 year old American gets to settle into a more aged version of the character. Westworld’s Sidse Babett Knudsen is tops and Irrfan Khan is pretty much a delight.
And boy is it gorgeous, with tourist board worthy shots by Salvatore Totino and a relative lack of CG when it comes to those cityscapes. One of my favourite elements was returning composer Hans Zimmer’s score, a man who remembers that a thrilling theme is essential to a large scale movie like this. Get him into the Marvel-verse immediately.
Inferno is just good fun- the shortest of these adaptations to date, with a brisk pace, more likeable characters and a mix of impressive visuals both real and imagined to keep things interesting. You’ll want to visit Florence when it's over.